Aubrey and Dennis Brain Online

Stephen Gamble, one of the authors of the new biography Dennis Brain: A Life in Music, recently passed along a link to a great website full of additional information on Brain’s father Aubrey.  Located here, the site is actually a part of, a compendium of various resources on Dennis Brain’s life and career.   John Ericson has posted a more detailed review at Horn Matters, which is of course recommended reading.  Dr. Gamble has put together some great stuff here, and it makes a nice companion to his new Dennis Brain biography.   Speaking of biographies, in our correspondence Dr. Gamble also mentioned a forthcoming project on Aubrey Brain – see his comment below, quoted from this blog comment.

I have an enormous amount of material about Aubrey Brain’s career that is not mentioned on those web pages, including original documents, most of which were actually once in his possession and given to me by a member of the family. I intend to publish a biography (possibly an ebook) some time in the future on Aubrey Brain but can’t give a date for that yet. There’s a lot more to learn about his career but it’s unlikely much personal information will come to light at this distance in time.

This promises to be a fantastic project as well, and I look forward to reading it.  Perusing this site got me thinking about other online resources for research on Dennis and Aubrey Brain, so I thought I’d put together a brief list, starting with the sites mentioned above.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  If you know of any other useful online resources on Dennis and Aubrey Brain feel free to comment below.

More on Dennis Brain’s Embouchure

Departing from the normal Monday Kopprasch Project post, I wanted to share an interesting description of Dennis Brain’s embouchure quoted in the new biography Dennis Brain: A Life in Music, by Stephen Gamble and William Lynch. Stepping back for a second, I want to congratulate the authors on their fine work.   The book is well-researched, easy to read, and full of interesting details concerning Brain’s life and career. Even those familiar with Stephen Pettitt’s Dennis Brain: A Biography will find plenty of new information in this volume. It is a must have book for any serious horn player – period.  As I was on vacation this past week I had plenty of time to work my way through the entire book, and in fact had a difficult time deciding what to write about in this mini review. John Ericson had already posted some excellent stuff (“Dennis Brain in Chicago…”) at, so I wanted to avoid any duplication there.  Thinking back over the various chapters, one of the most interesting for me was “Horns, Mouthpieces, and Embouchures.”  Having already posted on the subject of Dennis Brain’s embouchure here, I was intrigued by the following passage the authors quoted from On Playing the Horn, by Farquharson Cousins. The concept of “concave” and “convex” embouchures was new to me, as were the details of Brain’s facial muscles.

Dennis Brain’s mouth was concave. That is, his teeth were small and set well back into his head.  His lips were nonetheless “full” and obviously sensitive. When Dennis laughed, which he did often, his lips would appear to take up his playing position. Certainly his face in repose and when playing were unrecognisably different. Dennis’s concave embouchure made him appear to play much more on the edge of his top lip than in fact was the case. His lower lip position was more “einsetzen” than “ansetzen.” One could say that his was definitely an “inset” embouchure…He used considerable pressure, but this was supported by tremendous muscular contraction emanating from the whorls at the corner of the mouth. These whorls were above the line of the mouth.  In fact, Dennis Brain could be said to have had a “smiling embouchure,” and there was none of the “pursing” which is sometimes (and probably rightly, for some embouchures) recommended today (quoted on p. 207).

There is plenty to think about in this passage, but what struck me most is that according to this description, one of the premiere horn soloists of the 20th century played on what would likely be considered an unconventional embouchure setup today.  As a teacher and performer, this reinforces the idea that we all need to find an embouchure that works for us, rather than forcing ourselves or our students to play on a “textbook” embouchure.  Though the traditional setup often works, there are certainly other possibilities that can and do get results.

Rare Dennis Brain Performance and Interview

It’s been awhile since I posted on classic LPs, but recently I came across a trove of rare and unusual records in our music library. I’m making my way through them slowly, but one that caught my eye right away was this 1979 Arabesque Records album called “Unreleased Performances of Dennis Brain” (AR 8071).  According to the record jacket, “All the music on this record is from the recital given by the Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble at the Freemasons Hall on Aug. 24, 1957,” one of the last performances Brain gave before his tragic death.  Works on the album include La Basque by Marin Marais and Dialogue No. 4 for Wind Quintet by Gian F. Malipiero, as well as Beethoven’s Quintet in E-flat for Piano and Winds, Op. 16 and Villanelle by Paul Dukas.  In addition, the record includes interviews with Brain and various colleagues, and an excerpt from a lecture-recital featuring Brain and Neill Sanders.  To my knowledge, these recordings – and especially the interviews – have not been re-released, and are unique to this album.  If you can’t find this album at a used record store or online, don’t despair as there are numerous CD versions of other classic recordings by Brain, including this very nice box set.  This is a special year for Dennis Brain’s legacy, as the 43rd International Horn Symposium will be featuring several presentations related to his life and career.  Among these are a lecture recital by John Ericson titled “A Horn like Dennis Brain Played,” and a presentation by William Lynch, one of the authors of the recently published biography Dennis Brain: A Life in Music.  In closing I’ll leave you with two short snippets from the LP, which I’ve transferred over to digital format.  The first is Brain performing  La Basque by Marin Marais (his signature encore), with Wilfrid Parry on piano, and the second is Brain being interviewed by Roy Plomley on August 13, 1956 for the BBC radio program Desert Island Discs.

New Blog and Dennis Brain’s Embouchure

One great brass resource I only recently became aware of is Wilktone, the blog of Dr. David Wilken.  According to his bio, “David Wilken is a trombonist, composer, and music educator living in western North Carolina.  He earned a B.M in Composition from Illinois Wesleyan University, a M.M. in Jazz Studies from DePaul University and a D.A. in Trombone Performance from Ball State University.  He has taught music at Indiana Wesleyan University, Adams State College, and the University of North Carolina at Asheville.  Dr. Wilken currently teaches music at Western Carolina University.”

Dr. Wilken’s blog is full of great essays and videos on brass playing, with a particular focus on embouchure function.   His most recent video is titled “Embouchure Misconceptions: Five Myths About Brass Embouchures,” and it has got some really intriguing points.  The entire video is definitely worth watching, but I was particularly interested in Misconception No. 5, “The best mouthpiece placement is centered on the lips, with more top lip inside the mouthpiece. You shouldn’t place the mouthpiece rim on the red of the upper lip.”  This particular part of the video begins at 6:06.  Dr. Wilken goes on to explain that although a good many brass players do play with more top than bottom lip in the mouthpiece, there are plenty of others who actually play better with more bottom lip inside the mouthpiece.  He backs this up with video footage of a number of famous brass players, among them Dennis Brain, who “seem to place the mouthpiece lower on the lips, some right on the red of the upper lip.”  While I don’t necessarily disagree completely with this statement, I think in the case of the horn, the tolerances in terms of mouthpiece placement are much smaller due to the small size of the mouthpiece and the length of the instrument.  It is true that the horn can be played – and played quite well – with more lower than upper lip in the mouthpiece, but I think for a majority of horn players (more so than the other brass instruments), more top lip in the mouthpiece is necessary.  That being said, I never encourage students to change mouthpiece placement if their current setup allows them to negotiate the full range of the instrument with characteristic tone and articulation.  Regardless of my own personal views, videos and studies such as these are wonderful teaching tools, and I thank Dr. Wilken for his hard work and scholarship in this area.

One thing this video did for me was raise the question of Dennis Brain’s embouchure and how it differs from the more often used setup of more upper than lower lip in the mouthpiece.  Looking at my own resources, one of the few descriptions of Brain’s embouchure in the literature that I could find is in Milan Yancich‘s An Orchestra Musician’s Odyssey. His autobiography is full of practical and anecdotal information, including this brief description of meeting Dennis Brain and exchanging horns for a few minutes.

When I first held his horn in my hands it was of feather weight compared to my own Geyer horn. The horn was very easy to play; it responded quickly and the high register was superb in its response. When Brain played on my Geyer, he struggled to attain the high C. He had an embouchure where he set his mouthpiece into the lip (einsetzt embouchure) rather than the customary on the lip setting (annsetzt embouchure).  The rim of his mouthpiece was quite thin. He stated that the placement and setting of his embouchure was almost the exact opposite of his father’s and that when he articulated it was different from the customary technique of most horn players. [p. 208]

Another great resource we have for studying Dennis Brain’s embouchure is the video footage of the Beethoven Sonata, Op. 17 with Denis Matthews, originally produced by Anvil Film in 1952.  This video has recently been converted to DVD format by Hans Pizka Edition, and is available in the U.S. from Pope Instrument Repair.  In the following still images from the video, you can see Dennis Brain’s embouchure while playing first a low c, then b’ in the staff, and then g” above the staff.  These images are all Copyright 2007 by Hans Pizka Edition, and are reproduced here for educational purposes under the auspices of Fair Use.

In the last image especially you can see that Brain’s embouchure is one in which the mouthpiece is set into the top lip (einsetzen), rather than against it (ansetzen).  It is difficult to tell exactly the proportion of upper to lower lip, but it does look like there is more lower lip in the mouthpiece.  Needless to say, this setup worked fabulously for Dennis Brain – but that is no guarantee that it would (or wouldn’t) work for someone else.

For students I think the main thing to take away from all this is that everyone’s embouchure is unique in terms of form and function.  There are definitely principles of embouchure formation and mouthpiece placement which need to be seriously considered, but when it comes down to it what really matters is the result.  The most beautiful-looking embouchure in the world doesn’t really mean that much if it can’t produce the characteristic sound and range required by the instrument.  Likewise, there are other less conventional setups out there which get the job done.

60 Years of Strauss 1 Recordings!

**See the end of this post for supplementary information.

This is a project I have wanted to put together for some time, and have been slowly plugging away at it over the last few weeks. Inspired by this video of the opening chords of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, I thought it would be fun to do the same thing with one of our most often performed solo works, the Concerto No. 1 for Horn and Orchestra by Richard Strauss. The result is a montage of styles, sounds, and interpretations, culled from recordings made over the last 60 + years, 1947-2010. This famous opening is among the most recognizable in the horn’s repertoire, and is a perennial requirement for auditions, competitions, recitals, etc. Most of the recordings are from my personal library, supplemented by a few from our music library. It was great fun putting this together, and I hope that viewers find it interesting and useful.  Here are a few caveats/items of interest about the compilation.

  • I think all of the recording dates are correct, although with iTunes purchases the recording date is not always included with the digital format. The only recording that I couldn’t find a date for was the earlier (I presume) recording by Hermann Baumann and the Cologne Symphony. After a bit of digging, I found that he first recorded the Strauss concertos in 1983 with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. So, this suggests that the other recording is of a live performance that wasn’t commercially released prior to the CD release in 2009. **Update: the date of this recording is 1974. For more information, see Joseph Ognibene’s excellent article “Hermann Baumann: The Master’s Voice” in the October 2013 Horn Call.
  • The wide variety of sound colors and interpretations is really fun to hear back to back, especially each player’s rendering of the forte dynamic.
  • One other note is that Dale Clevenger appears twice in this video, once as a soloist (1998), and once as a conductor (2005).
  • My liner notes for the 1947 Brain recording say that this was the first recording of Strauss 1, but it would be interesting to try and find anything earlier, even from non-commercially released recordings. Anyone got any leads?

Update: At the (excellent) suggestion of my friend and colleague Daren Robbins, I’ve included links to purchase each of the recordings used in this project. They are all readily available, and of course highly recommended! You can also listen to the sound files of each player individually.




IHS 45 Report

ihs45I returned yesterday from the 45th International Horn Symposium, hosted by Professor Dan Phillips at the University of Memphis.  First, hearty congratulations and a huge thank you to Professor Phillips and his students for putting on a fantastic symposium this year! Though there are similarities among all events of this type, each has its own unique feel and style. The overarching theme of “Horn and Song” provided a sense of unity and cohesion to virtually all of the activities. My experience this year was a bit condensed – I arrived on Wednesday evening and departed on Saturday morning – but I still got to attend several different types of lectures and concerts, as well as peruse the exhibit rooms. It’s impossible to attend everything at such a large conference, but I tried to make sure that I saw a cross section of what was happening. As my time was rather limited this year I decided to wait until returning home to post some thoughts about the symposium.


Thursday afternoon’s Artist Recital featured Jasper de Waal and Abel Pereira (visit the IHS 45 Featured Artists page for more info), in a program of music by Ignaz Lachner, Paul Basler, and Johannes Brahms. Mr. Pereira, an internationally known player from Portugal, opened the concert with Lachner’s Concertino, Op. 43 for Horn and Bassoon, followed by Paul Basler’s Six Bagatelles for Horn and Bassoon. I was very impressed with Pereira’s playing, which combined technical prowess with consummate musicality. The second movement of the Lachner was especially gorgeous. Collaborating artists Lecolion Washington on bassoon and Tomoko Kanamaru on piano were equally impressive. Jasper de Waal, former Principal horn with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, performed the Brahms Op. 40 Trio on the second half. I’ve heard this work performed numerous times by world class artists, but de Waal’s rendition was absolutely mesmerizing. His sound has a buoyancy and effortlessness which leaves the listener wanting more. Musically there were some interesting interpretations of this well known work, but they were presented with such confidence that the audience couldn’t help but be convinced. de Waal and his colleagues So-Hyun Altino on violin and Victor Asuncion on piano received a well deserved standing ovation.

After a short sound check and dress rehearsal with my colleagues on Thursday evening, we were ready for our Friday morning performance on one of the Contributing Artist recitals. Our work, Eurico Carrapatoso’s  Sete Melodias em Forma de Bruma for soprano, horn, and piano, is not well known, but our performance went well, and we got several positive comments after the recital. Thank you and bravo to my colleagues Claire Vangelisti and Richard Seiler for joining me in this performance.

Friday afternoon’s Artist Recital had a very interesting lineup. Bruce Richards of the Liège Philharmonic performed the first three works on the program on Wagner Tuba. He played two new works composed for him by students at the Liège Conservatory, as well as a rare piece by Jan Koetsier for Wagner Tuba and string quartet. Richards sounded fantastic, negotiating what would have been very difficult writing even for the horn with grace and finesse. The concert also featured several other new pieces, including the premiere of a horn quartet by James Naigus (Beale Suite), a trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano by Eric Ewazen, and Three Hunting Songs for Horn Quartet and Voice by Brian Holmes. Although the program was lengthy (over 2 hours), the performances were engaging and well executed.

The concert on Friday evening was a real highlight of my trip to IHS 45, with stellar performances from Abel Pereira (premiere of a new concerto by Luís Tinoco), Jasper de Waal (Mozart Concerto, K. 447), and Frank Lloyd (Britten Serenade). In addition to these major solo works, the audience was treated to some fine ensemble playing in Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide (horn section led by Jeff Nelsen), the famous “Abscheulicher” aria from Beethoven’s Fidelio (horn section led by Jon Boen), and Benjamin Britten’s horn quartet In Memoriam: Dennis Brain (Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse).  Kudos also to the Eroica Ensemble and their conductor Michael Gilbert (father of NY Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert) for providing the orchestral portions of the program.

Although I wish I could have attended more concerts – especially some of the Contributing Artist recitals – I was both impressed and inspired by the performances I heard.


This year I spent most of my exhibit time looking at music, especially teaching materials, solos, and chamber music. Here’s a quick rundown on what I picked up.

  • Fernando Morais, Brazilian Short Studies for Brass Instruments: A collection of etudes and duets based on Brazilian folk music, which I plan to use to spice up duet playing in lessons.
  • William Presser, Three Pieces for Solo Horn: I hadn’t heard of this solo work, but it was frequently performed by Marvin Howe, and has been recorded by Randall Faust.
  • Marvin Howe, The Solo Hornist: Arrangements of well known tunes for horn and piano, with accompaniment CD. I’m always looking for short, lyrical works to help fill out recitals and to recommend to students.
  • Susan Salminen, Fanfare for Horn and Timpani: I heard this work on a recording by Kent Leslie, and thought it might make a nice addition to my upcoming recital of music for horn and percussion.
  • Edward Troupin, Divertimento for Trumpet, Horn, and Trombone: New piece to read in our faculty brass trio. Looks very interesting!

I didn’t try any horns this time around, but there was the usual assortment of horns and accessories, showcased by exhibitors from all over the world. One of the newest products was a case by Wiseman of London. Though this is their first attempt at a horn case, Wiseman is a leading name in cases for all types of musical instruments. Their product looks incredibly well made, and the craftsmanship is evident in every component of the case. Buying one of their cases would be a considerable investment, but given the high (and rising) cost of horns, the price of protection for one’s instrument might just be worth it. Their cases also come with a lifetime warranty. My only concern with this case would be if it could actually fit in the overhead bins or under the seat of a very small aircraft, like the Embraer ERJ 145. I’ve flown on these jets quite a bit, and they are very cramped.


To round out my visit, I attended two lectures, presented by John Ericson of Arizona State University, and Tiffany N. Rice Damicone, recent Doctoral Graduate from Ohio State University. You can read a brief overview of Dr. Ericson’s presentation at Horn Matters (A Masterclass with Philip Farkas on Musicianship), but I will add that it was really cool to see some rare video footage of one of the icons in the horn world. Thanks to Dr. Ericson for sharing this great resource! Dr. Damicone’s lecture was equally interesting, and was based on research conducted for her dissertation, “The Singing Style of the Bohemians” – A Study of the Bohemian Contributions to Horn Pedagogy, Western Perspectives on Czech Horn Playing and Analysis of the Teachings of Zdenek Divoky’ at the Academy of Performing Arts (D.M.A. diss., Ohio State University, 2013). Her presentation was well organized and delivered quite effectively. The handout from the lecture lists several little-known Czech resources which I look forward to exploring.

That about does it for this report. If you’ve read this far then you were probably at the symposium anyway, but if you weren’t I hope that this summary inspires you to attend a future horn workshop or symposium (next year’s symposium will be in London). They really are special events, and every horn player should attend at least one of them. I’ll close on a bit of a personal note by saying that I truly enjoyed reconnecting with friends and colleagues at IHS 45, including some friends from graduate school that I hadn’t seen in several years. Let’s keep in touch!

A Blast from the Past: My First Horn Recital

Thanks to a friend and former high school classmate, I tracked down a VHS recording of my very first horn recital, which I shared with the same friend. The date was August 16, 1997, and my part of the program was:

  • Francaix, Canon in Octave
  • Mozart, Concerto, K. 447
  • Damase, Berceuse

At the time I was a rising high school senior, and knew I wanted to pursue music performance in college. Listening and looking at the video is really fun, and the playing isn’t half bad (I was also skinnier back then!) Rhythm and tone quality are pretty good, and I was also working on lip trills and E-flat transposition for the Mozart concerto. Earlier that year I had shifted my mouthpiece placement to favor the upper lip, which drastically improved my tone and low range, but required an extensive rebuilding of the high range (perhaps more on this in a future post). This actually took several years, but in the end I think it was the right thing to do in my case. I certainly wasn’t the best high school player around, but I was studying with an excellent teacher and was willing to work hard to improve my playing. The video below is an excerpt from the recital, the first movement of Mozart’s Concerto, K. 447. The cadenza is my own, I believe, although I “borrowed” heavily from recordings by Dennis Brain, Barry Tuckwell, and others. Thanks again E.J. for this blast from the past!

Desert Island Discs: Horn World Edition

I’m a big fan of Desert Island Discs, a BBC Radio 4 program. Created in 1941, the show is an institution in Great Britain. The premise is simple, described here in this quote from the show’s website.

That first Desert Island Discs was recorded in the BBC’s bomb-damaged Maida Vale studio on 27th January 1942 and aired in the Forces Programme at 8pm two days later. It was introduced to the listening public as “a programme in which a well-known person is asked the question, if you were to be cast away alone on a desert island, which eight gramophone records would you choose to have with you, assuming of course, that you had a gramophone and an inexhaustible supply of needles”.

There are similar shows in this country, but none that I’m aware of with the prestige and breadth of Desert Island Discs. If you can imagine conductor Michael Tilson Thomas hosting a show like Saturday Night Live, that might approximate the scope of the BBC radio program. The spectrum of personalities who have appeared on the show range from Dennis Brain to J.K. Rowling and Margaret Thatcher. Asking people about their favorite music might seem like a superficial way to interview them, but it’s obvious from the reputation and longevity of Desert Island Discs that there is much more to it than the average radio show. Especially in the case of artists like Dennis Brain – who were tragically lost at a young age – each list of recordings stands as a small window into their lives and personality. Looking at Brain’s list (aired in March, 1956), there are the usual items that would probably appear on any horn player’s list – music by Richard Strauss, Franz Liszt, and Benjamin Britten – but recordings by Tommy Dorsey, Mitch Miller, and Frank Sinatra also have significant positions. Other prominent horn players who have appeared on the show include Barry Tuckwell and Alan Civil.Tuckwell’s broadcast is also notable because it is available for download from the Desert Island Discs archive.

Ok, now that you’ve been introduced to the show, it’s your turn! I’d love to hear which eight recordings you’d take with you to a deserted island. They can be any genre, and can be individual tracks or entire albums. Here’s my list, in no particular order. If there are enough responses perhaps it might be worth adding a thread to the “Horn People” group on Facebook or creating a separate group entirely for people to post their lists.

1. Shared Reflections: The Legacy of Philip Farkas
2. The London Horn Sound
3. John Williams, Saving Private Ryan, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
4. Gabriel Fauré, Requiem and Orchestral Music, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson
5. Burkhard Dallwitz, The Truman Show, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
6. Alison Krauss, Now That I’ve Found You
7. Empire Brass, Class Brass: Orchestral Favorites Arranged for Brass
8. Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti *Not sure if this would be allowed on the actual Desert Island Discs since it is a multi-disc set. If I had to choose one of the symphonies I would probably go with Symphony No. 2.

Cannon Music Camp Week 3: Lists, Finale Concerts, and Wrapping Up

It’s been a great three weeks, but Cannon Music Camp has come to an end for this summer. It was a pleasure working with the eager and talented students here, and I am grateful for the opportunity. We wrapped things up this week with a master class built around “must have” lists for horn players, i.e. music, equipment, and other items that I think every horn player should know about. In deciding what to present in the last studio class, I thought back on many of the questions that came up over three weeks of lessons. The list at the end of this post attempts to address, at least in part, some of those questions. It is not comprehensive, but is representative of the kinds of materials I use in my teaching. Though there are many, many more wonderful resources out there for horn players and teachers, these are the ones I keep coming back to and freely recommend.

I can’t wrap up this year’s camp without mentioning the numerous finale concerts at the end of the third week. All of the ensembles at Cannon performed very well, presenting exciting and challenging programs. Bravo! I want to extend a special thanks to Dr. Stephen Hopkins, Director of Cannon Music Camp, and Dr. Karen Robertson, Professor of Horn at Appalachian State University, for extending the invitation to teach at this year’s camp. Thank you as well to the counselors and other staff for their tireless efforts to make sure the day to day operations ran smoothly. Finally, I want to thank the horn students for all of their hard work in lessons, ensembles, and numerous other activities. Thank you for inspiring me, and good luck in this upcoming school year! Here’s a picture of the Cannon horn studio. Back row (L to R): James Boldin, Sada Harris, Nicholas Brooks, Chris Klim, Joshua Anderson. Front Row (L to R): Walter Bonar, Copeland Byars, Philip Norris, Raymond Adams.

Equipment, Books, Music, and More!
“Must-Have” Lists for Horn Players: Cannon Music Camp 2012


  • The Art of French Horn Playing, Philip Farkas
  • Collected Thoughts on Teaching and Learning, Creativity and Horn Performance, Douglas Hill
  • Thoughts on Playing the Horn…Well, Frøydis Ree Wekre


  • The Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments, Trevor Herbert and John Wallace
  • Brass Instruments, Their History and Development, Anthony Baines
  • Dennis Brain: A Life in Music, Stephen J. Gamble and William C. Lynch


  • The Art of Musicianship, Philip Farkas
  • The Inner Game of Tennis, W. Timothy Gallwey
  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Performance, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Sheet Music



  • Concerto No. 1 in D, K. 412; Concerto No. 2 in E-flat, K. 417; Concerto No. 3 in E-flat,K 447; Concerto No. 4 in E-flat, K. 495; Concert Rondo; Quintet for horn and strings, K. 407, W.A. Mozart [purchase in original keys, NOT transposed for Horn in F]
  • Concerto No. 1, Op. 11; Concerto No. 2, Richard Strauss
  • First Solos for the Horn Player and Solos for the Horn Player, ed. Mason Jones
  • The Horn Collection, G. Schirmer (3 volumes, with accomp. CD)


  • Horn Player’s Audition Handbook, ed. Arthur LaBar
  • The Orchestral Audition Repertoire For Horn: Comprehensive and Unabridged, ed. David Thompson

Horns (a few recommendations)

  • Yamaha 667, 667V, 668, 668V
  • Conn 10D, 11D, 8D, V8D
  • Hans Hoyer G-10, 6802, 7802
  • Paxman 20, 23, 25
  • Alexander 103
  • Handmade Custom Horns ($$$) include: Rauch, Berg, Sorley, Englebert Schmid, Patterson, Hatch, Medlin, Hill, Lewis, Lewis-Duerk, and more…


  • Laskey, Houser, Moosewood, Stork, Schilke


  • Straight Mutes: Balu, Trumcor, Moosic, Marcus Bonna
  • Stop Mutes: Balu, Alexander, Tom Crown
  • Practice Mutes: Balu, Wallace, Best Brass, Faxx


  • Marcus Bonna, Thompson Edition, Protec, BAGS


  • Hetman Lubricants
  • Leather Specialties (left hand guards)
  • Alexander and Englbert Schmid (left hand supports)



Sheet Music



Website: The History of Horn Playing in Los Angeles

Thanks to some recent correspondence with Dr. Howard Hilliard – a prominent teacher and freelance player in Texas – I was pointed towards an excellent resource on the history of studio horn playing in Los Angeles.  Located here,  Hilliard’s site includes information from his doctoral dissertation and articles he has published in The Horn Call, as well as a photo gallery and several nice audio clips.  The image at left is of Alfred Brain – Dennis Brain’s uncle, and one of the “founding fathers” of LA studio horn playing –  and is linked from the site’s photo gallery.   Much of this site is devoted to a detailed history of the horn players and working conditions in Los Angeles during the 20th century, and makes for a very interesting read.  The history is divided into several chapters: Introduction, Pre-War and WWII Years, Studio Contract Orchestras, Freelance Era, De Rosa and the LA Phil, LA Horn Club, Conclusion, and Bibliography.  Though there is way too much information contained here to cover in one sitting, I’ve been slowly working my way through the material.  When I was a young player, one of my first encounters with fine horn playing was through movie and TV scores, and I still have a warm place in my heart for the classic “Hollywood Sound.”  This tonal concept has influenced horn players throughout the world, and is well documented in the audio clips on the site.  Among the clips are recordings of the LA Horn Club performing Alec Wilder’s Nonet for Brass and George Hyde’s Color Contrasts, and solo clips with Vincent De Rosa and James Decker.  Another interesting feature is a catalog of the holdings in the Wendell Hoss Memorial Library.  Containing works for 4-16 horns, the catalog serves as an excellent introduction to horn ensemble literature.  In my correspondence with Dr. Hilliard, he mentioned that he wanted to update the site to a newer design, which would make this great site even better.  One other tidbit he passed along was that he is planning to release a new edition of his Lip Slurs for Horn publication.  Check out the website, and be on the lookout for the new edition of his book.

%d bloggers like this: